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At the end of 2006, Post changed the formula for this popular cereal to improve its health content. This change, although tested by Post beforehand to positive reviews, received mainly negative reviews from consumers.
Following this public response, in March 2007, Kraft Foods (then-owner of Post Cereals) introduced a new "Improved Taste" version of the cereal that, the company claimed, would improve "the cereal's taste, texture and appearance while incorporating key nutritional benefits to the product." This was set forth in a letter that was sent to many consumers who complained to Kraft in the early months of 2007. The letter accompanied, in many instances, a complimentary box of the reworked Honeycomb. The new "Improved Taste" cereal was not as tasteful as the original version to most people who grew up with it. In 2017, the formula was changed again with Honeycomb now "bigger" and butterier; customer reviews of the revised cereal have been extremely negative.
Three variations have been marketed, Strawberry Blasted Honeycomb, which added strawberry flavoring, and Chocolate Honeycomb, with chocolate flavoring in the pieces. A new variety called Cinna-Graham Honeycomb, adds cinnamon flavor to the cereal.
The product's ingredients are listed as:
- corn flour, sugar, whole grain oat flour, modified cornstarch, corn syrup, honey, salt, turmeric (color), wheat starch.
- Ferric Orthophosphate (source of iron), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Zinc Oxide (source of zinc), Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (a B-Vitamin), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid.
The product's ingredients prior to May 2017 are listed as:
- corn flour and bran blend (corn flour, whole grain corn flour, corn bran), sugar, whole grain oat flour, honey, salt, yellow 5, BHT added to packaging material to preserve product freshness.
- Vitamins & minerals: niacinamide (B vitamin), reduced iron, zinc oxide (source of zinc), Vitamin B6, Vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), thiamin mononitrate (Vitamin B1), folic acid (B vitamin), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D
Recently, Bran Blend, defined as whole grain corn flour and corn bran, was added to the ingredient list. This tripled the fiber content (from originally 1g to 3g per serving) and put the cereal in Kraft's Sensible Solution program. Aficionados of Honeycomb cereal[who?]readily tasted the difference. Post registered calls of complaints from Honeycomb fans after the change.
Advertising and marketing
During the 1970s and 1980s, television commercials featured visitors to a children's clubhouse called the Honeycomb Hideout. The visitor would arrive, initially hostile, and exclaim a need for a "big" taste. The kids would introduce the visitor to the cereal, winning over the visitor, examining the size of the cereal bits with a tape measure and singing the jingle:
- Honeycomb's big...yeah yeah yeah!
- It's not small...no no no!
- Honeycomb's got...a big big bite!
- Big big (taste/crunch) in a big big bite!
During the 1980s, the cereal offered the Honeycomb Hideout Club for children, distributing badges, membership cards and clubhouse toy incentives on specially marked box tops.
In his very last commercial, Honeycomb Kid battles Opera Bear (a mysterious ursine version of the Phantom of the Opera). Opera Bear’s one appearance was the final commercial of a several-part series, in which the Honeycomb Kid was seeking what he called “The Honeycomb Secret.” Honeycomb Kid had learned from his prior adventures that the secret consisted of three separate parts: The first was the Crunch, the second was the Shape, however the third and most important answer had always eluded him.
Presumably clues from his past adventures had led him to this location. Suddenly he was attacked by Opera Bear, who swung in on a rope. Opera Bear tells the Kid that he will never discover the Honeycomb Secret. The Kid responds “I don’t think so, Opera Bear!” (This is how his name was revealed to the viewer). Upon defeating Opera Bear, Honeycomb Kid discovers the third component of the Honeycomb secret to be the Taste. Since the Kid had originally claimed to have been looking for “The Secret of Honeycomb’s great taste”, the taste seems a somewhat unusual third component to the riddle.[original research?]
At the end of the commercial, Opera Bear and the Kid take a bow on stage, leading one to believe the entire series of commercials were meant to have all been a play. This was the last the world would see of both Opera Bear and the Honeycomb Kid as Crazy Craving would become Honeycomb’s new mascot by the next commercial.
A new set of Honeycomb Kid commercials were made in the 1980s where a child athlete would get done practicing then come up to a table with Honeycomb cereal, exclaim it was his or her favorite cereal, to where the older guys at the table would somewhat mock the "little kid" or "little guy" for wanting "big Honeycomb", to where the kid would go, "Little kid (guy)?! Watch this!" then go and show off his or her skills to them, thoroughly impressing them (saying "Big stuff!" and "Honeycomb kid!" as they watch) and being accepted by them ("I didn't know you were a Honeycomb kid!") and the commercial ends with the kid happily eating a bowl of Honeycomb.
In 1995, a mascot, Crazy Craving, was introduced as a wild-haired, rodent-like cartoon character who rabidly craves Honeycomb cereal and whom children in the commercials transform into. Its catch-phrase was "Me Want Honeycomb". The name Crazy Craving means that the character is the personification of hunger.
Bernard, the bee boy
A more recent commercial introduces Bernard, a boy raised by bees. He is found and attempted to be socialized. Although he had clearly been a feral child, he apparently cannot argue the fact that he is a 'bee' not a 'boy,' and he enjoys honeycombs. In a later commercial, a man gives a safari-like tour for the bee boy, luring him with honeycombs. In a commercial released in 2010, a second bee boy was introduced played by Canadian actor Joel Cox.
Mini License Plates
Honeycomb was famous in the 1980s for their annual mini-license plate giveaway, where a miniature state license plate was free inside a box, with the ability to order the whole set. One year, Post also included plates that said "LUCKY" and the finder of those plates won a BMX bike. (Interestingly, the commercial for this showed a girl winning and later riding the BMX bike, the latter of which was an unusual sight in the 1980s.)
- "Ralcorp Announces Completion of Post Cereals Merger". Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. Retrieved 2008-09-08.[permanent dead link]
- Honeycomb US Official website
- Honeycomb Canada Official website
- History and description of Honeycomb cereal and its marketing identity - includes photos and a recollection of the Honeycomb Hideout